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Manufacturer cited for multiple safety violations after workers battle 13 fires in two years

13 September 2022

A US manufacturer based in Clayton, Ohio was cited by the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on September 6 for exposing workers to fires and failing to train them on initial stage fire identification and use of fire extinguishers. The citation comes after safety investigators received a referral from a local fire department that responded to 13 fires at the car parts manufacturer in a two-year period.

OSHA cited Woodbridge Englewood Inc. ­– that does business as Hematite Inc. – for one willful and nine serious safety violations and proposed penalties of $271,403.

OSHA found the polyethylene material Hematite heats to create molten plastic for automotive parts catches fire in the ovens. The material is easily ignited, even by static, and difficult to suppress or put out when a fire occurs. Between June 2020 and June 2022, Hematite had 13 fires at its facility. Employees used portable fire extinguishers until they extinguished fires or until the fire sprinkler system activated.

"Our inspectors found Hematite's management preferred that workers combat fires with extinguishers, lessening repair costs and production time, rather than allowing sprinklers to activate. This practice endangered workers," explained OSHA Area Director Ken Montgomery in Cincinnati. "The company must immediately review its emergency action plans and the process for storing and handling flammable materials. Incorporating training and protective measures will help minimize fires and protect workers on the job."

Woodbridge employs more than 7,500 workers in over 50 locations across 10 countries. The company provides material technologies for applications in automotive, commercial, recreational, packaging, health care and building products. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with each of OSHA's area directors, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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